Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 27, 2013

Williams couple indicted in deaths

Kaufman County Grand Jury returns True Bills in slayings

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — A grand jury in Kaufman County presented indictments Thursday  against two defendants in connection with the murders of District Attorney Michael McLelland, his wife Cynthia McLelland and DA’s office prosecutor Mark Hasse.

In a noon announcement outside the Kaufman County Justice Center, District Attorney Erleigh Norville Wiley said former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric Lyle Williams and his wife Kim Lene Williams could receive the death penalty if convicted of the killings. 

Eric Williams also was indicted for making a terrorist threat related to an e-mail sent to authorities threatening future violence against county employees.

Hasse was shot to death on his way to work at the Kaufman County Courthouse on Jan. 31. The McLellands, also gunshot victims, were found dead in their home on March 30. The Williams’ were arrested in April after an highly publicized investigation.

Wiley said her office will not take an active role in prosecuting the case because the late DA, McLelland, had recused his office from the case following the death of Hasse, citing a conflict of interest.

Wylie said she could not participate in prosecuting the McLellands cases because, while serving as a County Court at Law Judge, she was notified of their deaths the night the bodies were discovered and subsequently issued a search warrant.

The prosecution will be conducted by Bill Wirskye and Toby Shook of the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, who have been involved with the case since their appointment by 422nd District Court Judge John Chitty in April.

“Bill Wirskye and Toby Shook have extensive experience in the prosecution of capital murders and other violent crimes,” Wiley said. “We have full confidence that the families of the victims and the citizens of the county will be well-served by their work.

Wiley said Chitty has also recused himself from the cases. They will be referred to an Administrative Regional Judge for assignment of a visiting judge.

Wylie, who was chosen by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in April to fill out McLelland’s unexpired term, thanked all of the law enforcement officers who have worked on the cases. Wylie said her office is still dealing with the emotional impact of the deaths.

“They’re like any other victims,” Wiley said. “Everyday we think about what happened with Mike, Cynthia and Mark. We miss them, but we know now that the indictments have been handed up. We’re going to cooperate any way we can as the case moves forward.”

According to an AP story, authorities allege that Eric Williams was the gunman in both cases. His wife, investigators say, was the driver when her husband shot Hasse on the street outside the county courthouse and that she was a passenger when her husband drove to the McLellands' home to kill the couple.